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Tuesday, 06 May 2008

Bluebells and Bank Holidays

Hello everyone,

Yesterday was a Bank Holiday in the UK. Bank Holidays are so called because they are days when banks legally have to be closed. Until a few years ago, almost everything else was closed too: but now most shops, museums and tourist places are open on Bank Holidays. All Bank Holidays are public holidays, but not all public holidays are Bank Holidays! In England, Scotland, and Wales we have fewer public holidays than almost any other European country: 8 in total. Most are connected to religious celebrations, but I bet that if you asked people in the street, they wouldn't be able to name them all, and they certainly wouldn't celebrate them! The unusual thing about our public holidays is, that except for Christmas, New Year and Good Friday, they are always on a Monday, so the date changes each year.

New Year's Day: 1st January
Good Friday: the Friday before Easter Sunday
Easter Monday: the day after Easter Sunday
May Day Holiday: the first Monday in May (not necessarily 1st May)
Spring Bank Holiday: the last Monday in May (this used to be Whit Monday, another religious festival)
Summer Bank Holiday: the last Monday in August
Christmas Day & Boxing Day: 25th & 26th December

Confused? Well here's a link to a really good website created by a school in Kent (that's in south east England). It explains public holidays (and all sorts of other things) much better than I can! Woodlands Junior School.

So what do people do on a public holiday? Well, the first thing to say is that everyone always jokes that the weather will be bad. This probably explains why so many people plan to stay at home and do DIY. If the weather turns out to be fine after all, people jump in to their cars and head for the coast or the countryside. Can you guess what happens then? They get stuck in a huge traffic jam for hours, the children get bored and everyone gets hot and bothered! Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day and this morning I met a neighbour of mine who told me he had left London at lunchtime to drive the 60 miles to the seaside and arrived 5 hours later....just in time to turn round and drive home again! I felt very smug because I had a lovely day: in fact I had a lovely weekend! Let me tell you why. First of all, last week I celebrated my birthday (oh dear, James, another year older). The week before my oldest friend (I mean the friend I have known for the most amount of time - she's a little bit younger than me and I've known her since she was born) also had a birthday. She lives about 50 miles outside London with her husband and son (who is one of my Godchildren - I have 5!), but this weekend she left them to look after themselves, and came to stay with me so that we could celebrate our birthdays. On Saturday evening we went out with friends for a meal in a pub: it was a really nice place, but we had to wait an hour and a half to get a table! On Sunday afternoon we went to some local woods to see the wild bluebells. Here we are:

Bluebells


A wood full of bluebells is one of the most beautiful sights you can see. If you've never seen it, you'll just have to imagine a kind of blue-purple haze under the trees, stretching as far as you can see. The flowers only bloom for a couple of weeks in late April or early May. English bluebells are different from the Spanish bluebells and, a bit like the Exmoor pony, are under threat because the Spanish bluebell is invading! The individual flowers of the English bluebell don't look as if they are anything special

A single bluebell



....but altogether they are simply beautiful (unfortunately, photos don't really do them justice)

Bluebell wood


Bluebells


My mother was born in Germany and came to England in the late 1940s. She always says that it was her first sight of bluebell woods that made her decide to stay here! She used to do a lot of hiking, but now she's older, she can't do as much, so yesterday I drove her around the English country lanes so that she could see the bluebells. A much better idea than sitting for 5 hours in a traffic jam, don't you think?

Finally, a few other bits and pieces: when I was out on Sunday, I came across some gorse (the plants the Exmoor ponies eat) and took a better photo so that you can see how prickly it is:
Gorse

All the green bits around the yellow flowers are actually thorns, not leaves.

Ana Paula, I haven't forgotten about the books!
Naheed: It was Paul's idea to start the staff blog...but you'll notice he's only written one so far!
Cris: unfortunately the British don't often stop for tea, but when they do, it's usually sometime between 3 o'clock and 4 o'clock.
Kuldeep: thank you for the tea recipe: I'm going to try it!

Thank you for all your comments: I'm looking forward to hearing how your scones turned out and what your favourite cake recipes are. Filippo, as you like savoury more than sweet, would you like me to find the recipe for cheese scones?

Take care

Carrie

DIY: Do-it-yourself - repairing and decorating your home yourself
to turn out: in this case, to end up
to head for: to go towards
b>hot and bothered: agitated or worried
smug: pleased with yourself
haze: a kind of mist
to do something or someone justice: to be fair to something or someone
under threat: to be threatened by something

Comments

Hi Carrie: thank you very much for the beautiful pictures. Really, it has been a gift for my eyes. What about the smell of these flowers?. I think that seeing it we can say all together that "the sweet smell of the spring has arrived". Don't you agree? Thank you again for your efforts and, of course, for the effort of all the teachers for doing our life more happy learning English. Bye for now. Mercè

Hi Carrie, thank you for the reply, so it was Paul's idea. Maybe in future he will take the front seat and will write more than just once. Once again, I liked the photos very much. Bluebells bed is really a wonderful sight. Speaking of flowers, what are you favourite flowers? With respect to my favourite cake recipes, I like chocolate cake and strawberry cheese cake, I have never made myself though. Cake recipes I have tried the most are pound cake and sponge cake. Looking forward to hearing from you again. Best wishes, Naheed

Happy belated Birthday Carrie! I like your way of celebrating it and agree with you about not jumping in to the car and heading for the seaside or wherever. My husband and I always stay at home on public holidays. We just relax and refresh. I can imagine the wonderful sight of those bluebells. Your pictures and your writing make me travel to your country. I also have a sweet tooth. I can send you a banana pudding recipe that I usually prepare if you want. Well Carrie, I'll get in touch. Until next blog. Take care. Cris

Hi Carrie! I know it´s a bit late but... Happy Birthday!!!! :-) Oooh... your weekend was delightful. Moreover, the bluebells are adorable and for sure driving your mother around Englsih lanes was an excellent idea. Well, I´m looking forward to reading about books( oh thanks, you´re so kind :-)) and cheese scones, yum, yum :-). Best wishes, Ana Paula.

Hi Carrie ,It seems like that you had spent a very nice holiady.The yellow flower in your picture looks like brier,right? bestwishes to you

A recipe for cheese scones would be very much appreciated, thank you Carrie. I am going to try making scones this weekend and maybe even to bring them to work for tasting. The pictures of bluebells set me back many years, when my daughter, who is 27 years now, was a baby. We used to trot around London parks, where we lived at the time, and I remember so vividly early summer days in Wimbledon Park and Hampstead Heath. I adore bluebells; they are so fragile. Lastly, I have not properly introduced myself to you Carrie; I was November 2007 student blogger and I have been following this site for over a year now. Thank you being with us.

Hi Carrie! I have read and enjoyed immensely all the contributions of the Staff blog. Now, as I spotted the beautiful foto of you both in the bluebell wood it reminded me of one my similar experience. Once I was on the hike with my father and his two friends, passionate in this activity. As we entered in to the wood towards the limestone hill the ground there was covered with the similar amount of white flowers which I didn´t see before or after. Poor me, I had to phone to my father to ask the name of the flovers then to my sister who has green fingers to ask the latin name which should be anemones. That trip was a really relaxed event full of laugh and jokes. Take care.Marianna

Hi Carrie! First off, happy belated birthday!! Oh well, fret not for the recipe...I do not want to put you in hot water at all. You do not need to post it just for me. I have got the feeling that only me and my father would eat them. My mother and my grandma are more sweet tooth, therefore, I plan on preparing the scones this Sunday. It will be Mother's Day over here so everybody will be pleased. :) As for the public holidays, the same goes over here as well. Lots of people go for a ride outside the city or they just spend time with relatives at home. Bye for now!!!

Hi Carrie, Happy Birthday to you and your friend, and Happy bluebells time too. They're so beautiful. What a pity that they go away so soon...

Hi Carrie, It would be nice if one of the banner image could twinkle! Which one should twinkle? That is of course the one who post the latest blog. I have enjoyed your every entries which are all splendid. See you around and happy birthday. James

Oh dear, Carrie, another year older. Take a good care and best wishes for both of us. James

Carrie, Happy belated Birthday! The bluebells are really nice, when I look at your photos I was thinking if I saw the same kinda flower along the Danube. I don't know much about flowers and I'm not sure if we have these flowers in Singapore. But I did take some pictures of some similar bluish purple flower when I was wandering beside the bank of Danube one evening, they were really nice! I am thinking if I can send some of those photos to you and you'll tell me if they are the same bluebells that you're talking about. And my friend showed me another type of small little white flowers, also grown from the soil like that, she called it the 'snowbells', she said she isn't sure if this translation is correct but in her language (which is german), they call it snowbells... So I am curious now...why do you name the flowers 'bells'? because they look like small little bells? haha...I have photos of the snowbells too! I was on my knee taking the photos, they were so small and short from the ground, haha...

Lovely the bluebells and a big kiss for your mother. Have a nice day !

(oldest friend!) Hi, I've finally got around to looking at this. It's very strange to read about myself and family and see a picture of us in the woods! Thanks to everyone for their great comments, we did have a great weekend and the bluebells were beautiful and so was the weather and the company!! What more can I say ....

Hi!! I just discover this blog. I like to read it and I like to see how people participate actively. I hope I could read this blog often. It's easy to read this blog. Thank you so much!

Thanks for all your contributions. This blog has now closed and can no longer accept new comments.

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